Sunday, December 16, 2012

Perfect Pairs: Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with Curried Cream Cheese Frosting

Speaking of perfect pairings, here is an interesting and delicious flavor pairing: they are Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with a Curried Cream Cheese Frosting. This picture is a sneak peak of the recipe to come later in this post:
Running in the Rain and/or Cold: So it's that time of year again......the trees are bare, the temperature has dropped, and best of all I can see my breath! For me running & the rain are a perfect pair, layering up for super-cold runs......not so much. In all fairness, I actually enjoy running in the rain and in the cold, but what I don't like is running bellow a certain temperature. I think that my lower limit of pleasant running is about 50 degrees; once it drops bellow this I don't enjoy the extra clothing/accessories needed to keep warm. I like to feel light and free when I'm running and all the extra things make me feel anything but. However, despite the cold weather annoyance, running is still awesome, and running in the cold, crisp air is so refreshing, so I have some tips on how to stay warm on those cold winter runs without adding 500 lbs of clothing.
Perfect Pairing: All black outfit and candy cane socks.
Yes, I am actually committing the ultimate running sin
and wore socks with capris, I'm a cool kid. 
Running tips for the Cold and Rain:
- Wear gloves: A lot of heat that is lost is lost through the extremities; instead of adding a sweater, add on a pair of gloves and you'll be surprised at how much warmer you stay. Also your hands won't get numb which is always a plus.
- Ear cover/ Headband: I prefer really thick headbands that are made out of lightweight workout material, that are wide enough to cover my ears. People tend to lose a lot of heat through their ears, so this will also be great for keeping you warm on a cold run. I personally love this headband from Lululemon.
- Thicker Socks (or double up on socks): This is for the same reason as the gloves; people just lose the most heat from their extremities, so keeping the ends of our extremities warmer helps with our overall body heat.
- Compression Running pants: I really don't like running in anything other than shorts, but when it gets cold enough I will begrudgingly put on some pants/capris. I really like compression pants and capris because they are lightweight, skin tight (aka they don't chafe), and they still keep me warm. I like these pants from Nike and these capris from Lululemon. 
- Lightweight Rain Jacket: I love running in the rain, my only hesitation is getting soaked in my clothing and catching a cold. A lightweight rain jacket is the perfect solution. This one from Stoic is great quality and super light; it's made for men but I just bought the smallest size and it was fine. The great thing about this jacket is that if it stops raining, it's so light that it's not weighing you down, and it won't make you get too hot if it starts to warm up.

Cupcake Time: 
Chocolate Orange Cupcake with Curried Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
Earth Balance Competition: So Earth Balance, the brand that makes a lot of vegan margarines, butters, nut butters, soy milk, "egg" nogs, and other vegan yummies is currently having a bake-off competition. The requirement for entering the competition is that you use at least one of their products in your recipes, I actually ended up using two. I used their SoyNog (vegan version of eggnog) and their Shortening. Now usually I'm not a fan of using processed fats and oil, and refined cane sugar in recipes, but it's the holidays and everybody deserves to indulge every once in awhile. 
How I came up with my recipes: I was coming up with the cupcake recipe completely on my own, without looking up any other recipes for reference.....that's right, just me and my food science textbook and lots of test batches of cupcakes. It took quite a while to come up with the right ingredients (chocolate chips vs cocoa powder, pastry flour vs all purpose flower.....etc), the right ratios, and most importantly the perfect flavor pairings. However, the results were well worth it; I have come up with two extraordinary cupcake flavors that incporporate a lot of traditional holiday flavors, but in new and unexpected ways. I will share the Chocolate Orange Cupcake with Curried Cream Cheese Frosting recipe today, and the Orange Spice Cupcake with Sage-Infused Maple Icing in a day or two.

Ingredients for Chocolate Orange Cupcake: 
- 1 cup all purpose white flour
- 1/2 cup cake & pastry flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
This is what the batter should look like
when it's done.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup melted earth balance shortening
- 1 cup earth balance eggnog
- 1 tsp instant coffee
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp orange zest
Directions for Cupcake:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. 
2. In a large bowl mix together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl mix together eggnog, melted shortening, instant coffee, vanilla, and orange zest.
4. Slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry while whisking with a large fork. Continue to mix until the batter is even, shiny, and a little sticky. Do not over mix as this will make the dough too tough. 
5. Scoop into pre-lined cupcake tray. The batter should only be between 1/2 to 3/4 of the way to the top of the hole. 
6. Bake in the oven for 16-20 minutes. Mine usually are done around 18 but it varies from oven to oven. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes our clean.
7. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before frosting.
Ingredients from Curried Cream Cheese Frosting: 
- 8 oz vegan tofutti cream cheese
This is what the frosting should look like
when it's done. 
- 1/2 cup room temp earth balance shortening
- 1.5 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 cayenne
- 1/8 cinnamon
Directions for Frosting: 
1. Make sure the earth balance is at or slightly above room temperature such that when it is mashed with a spoon it is smooth and slides, rather than forms sharp/crumbly pieces. Also make sure your cream cheese is at room temp.
2. In a mixer on the “whip” setting (slightly low medium speed) cream together the shortening and cream cheese until evenly mixed. 
3. While the mixer is on, steadily sift in all of the powder sugar, occasionally scraping down the sides.
4. Immediately add in the spices and salt, and mix until smooth and even. This may take up to a minute or two, but stop the frosting periodically to make sure that it is not over-mixed. If over-mixed, the oils will start to separate, so avoid over-mixing.
5. Cool the frosting in the fridge for a few minutes before frosting cooled cupcakes. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe, check back in a day or so for the Orange Spice Cupcake with Sage-Infused Maple Icing Recipe! And stay warm on your cold-weather runs!

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